On my tours to Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam’s southernmost province Kien Giang, I met the only breed of dogs that is native to Vietnam and I fell in love with the smart and friendly Phu Quoc dogs. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is a breed of dog from Phú Quốc Island in Vietnam’s southern Kiên Giang Province. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is one of only three breeds that has a ridge of hair that runs along its back in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat (the others are Rhodesian Ridgeback and Thai Ridgeback). The Phu Quoc is the smallest of the three ridgeback breeds. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is the only breed of dogs that is actually native to Vietnam. Let us find out more about them!
What does the Phu Quoc Ridgeback look like?
When you come to Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam, you will definitely see the Phu Quoc Ridgebacks around. They are everywhere, and they have absolutely no regard for the traffic whatsoever.
When you enter a farmstead, be it a pepper farm or any other area where families live, the dogs bark loud to raise the attention of their owner. They also get up to meet you, sometimes in teams.
But the Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are a friendly dog breed. Once they see that they can’t bully you, it’s easy to make friends with them. And they are smarter than most of the other breeds I encountered so far, except for pugs maybe.
The typical features of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback are long legs, spotted tongue and a sword-shaped ridge on it’s back. When the dog is on alert, the ridge, which is hair that grows in the opposite direction of the rest of the fur, stands up, making the Phu Quoc dog look braver and stronger. The webbed feet allow the Vietnamese dog to swim and run faster than many other breeds. They can also jump very high and even climb trees.
Since the friendly dogs got worldwide attention, breeders got interested into setting up a recognized standard. There are only estimated to be 700 pure-blooded specimen worldwide, most of them in Vietnam of course. If you are getting around on Phu Quoc Island, most dogs you see are mixed breeds.
According to the older generation, there are four traditional colors of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback: spotted, black, yellow, and striped. Nowadays there are more colors because the dog has been cross-bred. Finding a pure-blooded dog is hard and can be quite expensive. It can also be very difficult to import dogs from Vietnam. The most valued colors are pure black and pure yellow.
The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is one of three dog breeds in the world that has a ridgeback. There is the Thai Ridgeback and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Our best friend, the Vietnamese Phu Quoc Ridgeback, is the smallest of the three and typically reaches between 20 and 25 kilograms. In the past, they were used for hunting, carting, and as escort and guard dogs.
They are very intelligent and curious and since they love to learn, they can easily be trained, if there is a good and stable relationship with their human based on mutual trust.
How to train them
The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is, physically, a very versatile breed – not only can it run incredibly fast but it can climb trees too and can even catch fish from the sea. Although there are few records of owner experiences with the Phu Quoc Ridgeback, those that exist indicate that they are much easier to train than other dog breeds, partly because they are so intelligent and pick instructions up very easily. House training, basic commands and boundaries can be established in just a couple of days although, as with every breed, some dogs are more stubborn than others.
Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are also a very relaxed and even-tempered, which makes them easy to have around (as long as they are looked after properly) and they tend to be friendly to everyone. They are loyal and brave in the face of danger to themselves or their owners. These are very sociable animals and they’re great with different breeds of dogs.
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